CHARLESTOWN stayed in a four-way battle for the minor premiership after leaving South Cardiff behind to scrap with Edgeworth for fifth place following a 3-1 win in the mud, wind and rain at Ulinga Oval yesterday.
Two goals from Kane Goodchild and a skilful effort from Scott Smith gave the Blues a victory which lifted them to 30 points, two points behind a three-way tie for top spot.
A controversial late equaliser from eighth-placed Valentine in a 1-all draw with Broadmeadow at Wanderers Oval helped create the joint leadership battle, leaving Magic on 32 points with Hamilton and the Jets Youth, who hung on for 2-1 wins yesterday at Lake Macquarie and Weston respectively.
But the greatest drama was at Broadmeadow, where Valentine scored via Kieran Delaney from a free kick with 10 minutes remaining.
Delaney took the free kick at the top of the box quickly and found space between the Magic wall to score.
But Broadmeadow players believe the goal should not have counted because their wall was still going backwards after being told by the referee to move.
Magic coach Damien Smith said his keeper was also out of position directing the wall into position.
‘‘I thought the draw was a fair result, given the chances in the game,’’ Smith said
‘‘We were a bit off the pace but our boys weren’t happy about that goal.’’
Valentine coach Lindsay Tapp said Delaney asked the referee if he was allowed to take the free kick and was given the OK.
Broadmeadow’s Scott Pettit was sent off for a second yellow card with five minutes to go.
Peter Haynes scored a cracking goal from a tight angle to put Magic up 10 minutes into the second half.
At Ulinga Park, Charlestown paid a high price for the win, losing attacking midfielder Mitchell Harper to a suspected broken leg suffered when he landed awkwardly from a header.
Martin Raines scored late for the Gunners to make it 3-1, but Charlestown were deserved winners.
South Cardiff are now equal with Edgeworth, who play Hamilton on Wednesday. The Gunners play Charlestown again on the same night.
At Johnston Park, Chris Wheeler scored five goals in Edgeworth’s 6-2 romp over West Wallsend.
Weston coach Darren Elkin conceded his side’s finals chances were over after they lost to the Jets at Weston Park.
Elkin bemoaned his side’s inability to get more than one shot past usual defender Sam Gallaway, who was in goals for the Jets while regular keeper James Fogarty serves a two-week ban.
Bears striker Jason Cowburn scored with five minutes remaining, but Elkin said his team created plenty of opportunities without capitalising.
At Macquarie Field, Clayton Poole and John Majurovski scored midway through the second half to put Hamilton 2-0 up before Luke Dyas pulled one back for the Roosters with 20 minutes left.